Forests - threats

Around the world, lush tropical forests are being logged for timber and pulp, cleared to grow food, and destroyed by the impacts of climate change. Four fifths of the forest that covered almost half of the Earth's land surface eight thousand years ago have already been irreplaceably degraded or destroyed.

Every two seconds, an area of forest the size of a football pitch is lost due to logging or destructive practices. Seventy two per cent of Indonesia's intact forest landscapes and 15 per cent of the Amazon's have already been lost forever. Now the Congo's forests face the same threat.

While the causes vary from region to region, they all have one thing in common: human activity. Through agriculture and logging, mining and climate change, humankind is wiping out irreplaceable forests - and the life that depends on them - at a terrifying pace.

View of the Amazon from above. This 1645 hectare area has been logged to plant soy.

Agri-business is responsible for massive rainforest destruction as forests are burned to make way for cattle ranches, or cleared for palm oil or soya plantations. In this way, irreplaceable rainforests are converted into products that are used to make toothpaste, chocolate and animal feed.

Industrial logging for timber, pulp and paper has also devastated much of the world's rainforests. Not only are ancient trees cut down on a vast scale, but unplanned and inefficient practices lead to enormous additional wastage. And, by building roads into pristine rainforests, the logging industry opens them up to secondary effects like human settlement, hunting, fuel-wood gathering and agriculture.

Today, forests face another threat. Deforestation contributes to climate change (overall, it accounts for one-fifth of all greenhouse gas emissions - which is why Indonesia is the world's third largest greenhouse gas emitter and Brazil the fourth). At the same time, climate change itself threatens forests on a terrifying scale.

Rising global temperatures damage and kill trees, and increase drought and forest fires. Dying trees release still more carbon, which further increases our global temperature. This cycle of forest collapse represents a critical feedback loop that could drive warming for centuries, change life cycles on Earth, and usher in a sweeping transformation of human civilisation. The surest way to stop it is to end deforestation.

Greenpeace is campaigning for zero deforestation globally by 2020 because protecting forests is one of the quickest and most effective ways to prevent climate change, protect biodiversity and defend the rights of forest communities.

To realise this vision, the international community, corporations, forest communities and individuals in consumer countries will need to work together in an unprecedented, concerted effort. You can read more about the solutions to forest destruction here.

The latest updates

 

Give the Congo Basin forest a chance

Blog entry by Victorine Che Thoener | 13 October, 2017 1 comment

Approaching the forest in the Congo, I am met with an overwhelming wall of green. Flying over it, I see the meandering rivers merging together. I see animals drinking from the rivers, frolicking with joy in the water. Walking into the...

The many faces defending the Great Northern Forest

Blog entry by Ethan Gilbert | 6 October, 2017 1 comment

“Hi, would you like to have your photograph taken to help protect the Great Northern Forest?” Earlier this year, we  took to the streets to ask people this very question. Our dream is that the critical forest landscapes in this...

How your tissue could be wiping away amazing forests

Blog entry by Lina Burnelius | 29 September, 2017 1 comment

You smell it first – the smell of recently splintered trees is so strong that it hits me long before I reach the logging site. The tree stumps are still sticky with resin. A few hours ago this was a lush forest with trees that had...

Wiping Away the Boreal

Publication | 27 September, 2017 at 13:00

Human activities are currently driving the world’s species to extinction at up to 1,000 times the natural rate. To protect biodiversity and the functioning ecosystems that are vital to our wellbeing, we must reduce and ultimately halt our...

Chevron's Amazon Chernobyl Case moves to Canada

Blog entry by Rex Weyler | 15 September, 2017 2 comments

After perpetrating what is probably the worst oil-related catastrophe on Earth - a 20,000 hectare death zone in Ecuador, known as the “Amazon Chernobyl” - the Chevron Corporation has spent two decades and over a billion dollars trying...

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